that is one fabulous lingerie shop
Mawaru Penguindrum #2
Been a bit late watching this episode, so I was having a lot more backed-up expectation than usual about this show’s second ep. I didn’t think it would try to outmatch the strength of the leader, but I was impressed at how it maintained the overall lighthearted feeling and tone established by the first episode and even built on it by laying down new plot threads that I would think are par of the course for someone like Ikuhara. I haven’t read the novel this anime was based on, so I can’t say for sure what’s likely going to happen in the near and far future, but I’m at least confident that whatever it is, I’m going to enjoy every inch of it.
Normally second episodes of TV anime dip down on quality either in the storytelling department or in the art/animation department, especially when the preceding episode does so well in all categories, that I admit being a little wary heading into this one. But when I finally hunkered down and began watching, my worries soon disappeared altogether and I enjoyed the episode immensely, perhaps even as much as I did the prior one. There wasn’t any obvious drop in quality, but it was rather a steady sailing of the ship. It didn’t offer anything strikingly bold and new save for the background images in the episode, which made me laugh (see cap at top). Flamboyantly loud, but beautifully rendered.
It’s the little actions of the penguins that go on under the broader backdrop of the unfolding story that’s the main cause of my enjoyment of this episode. Seeing those cute blue birds go around the city following the orders of Shoma and Kanba made me chuckle more than once, from watching them trying to wiggle their way around the overcrowded subway train to observing them pore through Ringo‘s bag in an attempt to find the as-of-yet unknown Penguin Drum. There’s something really endearing about those birds, more than being cute. They’re legitimately entertaining and are vital parts as to what currently makes the whole show very entertaining. I’m liking them more and more each time I see them.
I liked the steady rhythm of the episode. It does what it sets out to do–relate more bits and pieces of the plot and new characters–and does it without much fanfare. In the span of 24 minutes we get to witness the background and character traits of the character Ringo while not side-stepping all over the place by bringing in stupid and ill-advised misunderstandings that’s all too common. Streamlined flow of information underlined by quirky, hilarious goings-on made for a highly watchable and funny episode. It’s simple, no-nonsense fare that gets right to the point. And what a point it is. I suspected the show was going to move in a similar direction as where Utena went, and my suspicions look like they’re starting to come in effect.
I can’t say this enough, but the colors in this show really are amazing. Combining them with the casually drawn scenery and the clever depiction of random passersby serves to give them more life and vitality. And the colors are arranged and placed in such a way that’s not too off-putting because of their loudness and sheer variety. It doesn’t hurt your eyes to watch this show despite the array of bright colors everywhere. The show could just be the three main characters sitting around the dinner table talking and I would still enjoy it (one of my favorite part’s actually the scenes in their house). At night, even when the setting is muted and subdued, the colors still look fresh and new. They are just as refreshing in the night as in the day.
And then there’s the transformation sequence. It’s more than safe to say that we’re going to see it in every episode from here on, but I don’t have any problem with it myself. It’s such a powerfully exciting and fabulous sequence that seeing it every week won’t feel old. Leave it to Ikuhara to create a visually dazzling and innuendo-laden transformation sequence.
Episode 2 was storyboarded/directed by the show’s assistant director, Mitsue Yamazaki, and it was good work coming from her. I don’t know her enough to say something about her style, but I liked how she created and maintained a smooth and fluid rhythm from the beginning to end, interspersed with cool scenes. On the animator front, there was Erukin Kawabata, who’s also another one whom I don’t know much about. I seem to recall he’s part of the .gif animator collective presently active in the industry today, along with people such as Ryochimo, Tomoyuki Niho and Shingo Yamashita–all cool animators in their own right. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d say he did those scenes with the penguins squeezing their way inside the train until the part where the girl shouts at Shoma. It just strikes me as something he would do. Then there was a shot with Shoma and Kanba looking shocked when they stand outside the lingerie shop. Their expressions felt different from the rest of the episode, somehow.